Here's one thing that can, plainly, be said about the controversy over Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act: this is exactly what Democrats hoped would happen.
The Democratic campaign and message apparatus has been banking, for months, on the rightward tilt of the Tea Party to damage the Republican Party in November's midterm elections. They put out a strategy memo to this effect in January.
The idea is, basically: Tea Partiers are crazy, right-wing extremists. If the Republican Party elects them to run in November, the Republican Party will lose. Democrats have been saying this for months.
Paul's statements about the Civil Rights Act, brought up last night by Rachel Maddow and discussed at length, in an interview, have dominated the news cycle today. It has not looked good for Paul, or for the Tea Party.
...Rand Paul is now saying that he regrets the appearance with Rachel Maddow, not the ridiculous statements he made in favor of a private business's ability to discriminate according to race. I suspect that this will be the first of many such disasters for the Tea Party libertarians. They are about to find themselves faced with actual political rivals who will be more than happy to expose the utopian foolishness of their ideology. This will be a rare moment of public education for an electorate that doesn't pay sufficient attention to even the most important aspects of democracy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, also from The Atlantic:
But what about red-lining? Does Paul know anything about blockbusting? Does he think banks should be able to have a policy of not lending to black businesses? Does he think real-estate agents should be able to discriminate? Does he think private homeowner groups should be able to band together and keep out blacks? Jews? Gays? Latinos?
I think there's this sense that it's OK to be ignorant about the Civil Rights Act because it's a "black issue." I'm not a lawyer, but my sense is that for a senator to be ignorant of the Civil Rights Act, is not simply to be ignorant of a "black issue," but to be ignorant of one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed. This isn't like not knowing the days of Kwanzaa, this is like not knowing what caused the Civil War. It's just embarrassing--except Paul is too ignorant to be embarrassed.
This is George W. Bush-style prideful ignorance, and it's probably the worst thing about the TeaBaggers specifically and the Republican Party generally.
They don't know, they don't care and they don't like you because you do.
Muse notes among the many atrocities in the Texas SBOE hearings going on in Austin is that -- as Coates points out in the last sentence excerpted above -- the Civil War was fought not over slavery or even states' rights but because an angel fell from Heaven (and became Satan, I suppose is the lesson).
The stupidity is literally breath-taking.